President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama signs the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Now, Congress needs to undo some of the damage of past injustice.
Before Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, as many as 114,000 service members were discharged because they were gay, and many of those were dishonorable or other than honorable discharges. The damage those dishonorable discharges have done can't be undone, but the status of the discharges themselves could be, and two House Democrats—Wisconsin's Mark Pocan and New York's Charlie Rangel—have proposed a bill to do just that.

Explaining that many states treat dishonorable discharges as felonies, and that service members discharged for being gay may have had trouble getting work or even been prohibited from voting or getting unemployment benefits or veteran benefits, Pocan details the remedies of the proposed bill:

The “Restore Honor to Service Members Act,” turns the current broad review policy outlined in a memo from the Under Secretary of Defense into clear and settled law. It ensures all services members who were previously discharged because of their sexual orientation receive a timely, consistent and transparent review of their records so that gay veterans who served honorably have their records rightfully upgraded to honorable.  It also removes any indication of a service member’s sexual orientation from the record, so they are not automatically “outed” to those accessing their record and protects against future discrimination by decriminalizing consensual relations between same sex couples, bringing military law in line with Supreme Court rulings.
Reasonable responses to this bill include: Yes. Now. Right this minute. Last week. How has this not already happened?

Will congressional Republicans have such reasonable responses? Somehow, I'm not confident in that. But this is one to watch—upgrading these discharges will undo past injustice, injustice that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell ended for today's military but that is still haunting too many veterans.

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